Although Kornati National Park is a natural reserve which people visit for its untouched natural beauty, some experienced sailors come here as gourmands. Several of the finest Adriatic restaurants are to be found in Kornati.
Let’s go a few steps backwards. The Kornati archipelago was declared a national park back in 1967, which means that this area has remained completely undeveloped in terms of pipelines, infrastructure, tourist and residential buildings, etc. There is literally no sign of civilization here. However, those few families who lived at Kornati before they became a national park, along with those who possessed fishermen’s shelters and small establishments, were allowed to continue with their usual lifestyle. New buildings were not allowed, so some natives have turned their old places into restaurants. Many of them do not want to change their traditional way of living, which means that meals served there are very simple, yet as delicious and unforgettable as they used to be a generation ago. It makes perfect sense because those natives do not know anything about modern and cosmopolitan cuisine often presented on numerous TV shows.
One of such restaurants is Darko Strižnja in Strižnja cove on the island of Kornat. Darko, the founder and the owner of this temple of good food decided to start the restaurant business after his fishing boat sunk, leaving him without anything. At first he used to serve visitors from a nearby camp who would visit him on rubber dinghies. He improvised serving the food from plastic plates, preparing the food on the fireplace. As word of mouth spread, Darko set up a proper kitchen and arranged his place to feel like a restaurant. Still, the recipes have remained the same – Darko learned all of them from his grandparents.
Like every decent restaurant on Kornati, Darko serves seafood caught by his own hands. Lambs that are served belong to Darko, and they are bred between two drywalls above his establishment. The olives from which olive oil is made are also grown there. As word of mouth is more efficient that any other advertising, Darko is pretty busy during the season. It is therefore recommended to announce your visit and book your place for a fine dinner in advance. Although Darko has not changed his lifestyle, his children have forced him to embrace a bit of modern technology, so it is not difficult to find the information about his tavern online.
In order to reach Darko, you should navigate to the middle of Kornat island from the western side and drop the anchor behind Strižnjak islet. There are five buoys and seven moorings available at the pier in front of the tavern, exclusively reserved for the guests of Darko Strižnja. Beware of draft because the depth below the pier ranges from 1.7 m to 2.5 m. Before you dine, you should enjoy the sunset, climb the hill above the tavern or chat with the hosts, who are more than happy if given a chance to talk about their lifestyle on the desert island. You might also be invited to join Darko to pick up the nets and check the catch before the next day’s dawn. Do not be surprised if you feel someone’s breath and hairy snout bending over your shoulder when the dinner comes to table. It’s only one of the curious donkeys which live free on the island, visiting Darko from time to time just to say “hi” and hear the news…
To learn about other places to eat at while sailing the Adriatic, visit Sailing Croatia Boats. I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!